A “buy now, and pay later” plan that promises no interest or upfront fees may seem more attractive than terms on a credit card. It sounds simple and manageable to split a transaction into a four-pay installment plan.
These plans, unlike credit cards, lack consumer protections and can be unpredictable. Credit cards are a better option than pay-in-4 buy now, pay late plans. This makes it easier to manage your payments, dispute transactions and get refunds. It also allows you to establish credit or access debt-payoff options.
These are some situations where a credit card could be a good choice:
1. Credit reporting
Credit card issuers usually report on-time payments at the three major credit bureaus, Equifax Experian and TransUnion. This can help you build a credit history. This is not always true for buy-now, pay-later companies. You might not see the account report to credit bureaus depending on which lender you have.
Late fees can be a problem, considering how easy it is for several people to open multiple buy now, pay back later plans simultaneously. Future lenders might not be able to see how many loans you have opened because these loans do not always show up on credit reports.
2. Easier payment management
Credit cards make it easy to track multiple purchases and pay in one place. It can be difficult to manage multiple buy-now, pay-later plans from different companies with different due dates.
If an account is not funded, automatic payments may be required by buy-now-pay later companies. However, this can cause overdraft fees and other financial problems. According to the study, “Buy Now, Pay (Pain)”, heavy users experience a greater decline in financial health than those who use buy now, pay later plans. Ed deHaan is an associate professor at The Foster School of Business, University of Washington.
Credit cards can also cause financial problems. However, there’s one thing you can do: A credit check may be done to determine if your income is sufficient.
DeHaan states that while it can be frustrating for consumers trying to get credit, this protection can actually be a very helpful protection to prevent someone from getting into trouble with multiple credit lines.
3. Transparent disclosures
Additional protections can be provided by regulatory requirements for credit cards. Credit card issuers must disclose the terms of the card and include a box detailing the cost of the card, such as fees, interest rates and minimum interest charges.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched an investigation and found that many buy-now, pay-late lenders don’t provide periodic statements or standard cost-of credit disclosures.
4. Consumer protection
You might be surprised at your buy now, and pay later terms if an item arrives damaged or is not as described.
Credit cards make it easier to dispute and return money. A return is a simpler process than buying a buy now, pay later plan. Credit card holders may have rights to dispute billing or resolve errors. This could include the right not to pay for an item while a claim is being processed. Credit card issuers are prohibited from charging multiple late fees for the same missed payments.
According to a CFPB report, dispute resolution is the most popular buy now, pay more later category in its complaint database. While terms vary from company to company, some plans may still require payments during a dispute resolution or refund. The company can continue to withdraw funds from your account if you have a linked automatic payments plan. Late fees may be imposed if late payments are not made. According to the report, at least one buy-now, pay later company was investigated by the bureau and assessed multiple late fees for the same missed payment.
5. Options for managing debt
If you have a burdensome credit card balance, your options for debt repayment may be less than those available for buy now, pay back later plans.
Nonprofit credit counseling agencies may have relationships with credit card issuers, which can allow them to combine multiple balances into one debt management plan with one payment and lower interest rates. Relationships with buy now, pay late companies may be limited or absent.
GreenPath Financial Wellness is a nonprofit credit counseling agency that assists clients in paying down buy-now, pay-later balances. However, it does not have a relationship with any company, LaDonna cook, a GreenPath manager for program performance and quality control, stated via email.
She said, “We are certainly keen to work with [buy-now, pay later] businesses that are interested in offering customers options for managing their debt.”
This article was originally published by The Associated Press and was written by NerdWallet.